It’s been a good and bad week for MIR Investment Management. The value and momentum boutique equities manager won the Money Management/IMCA Funds Manager of the Year Award, while S&P Fund Ratings, which used to judge that award, put MIR’s main funds ‘on hold’ for investors.

MIR announced last week the departure of Owen Evans, the head of its qualitative investments team, which prompted the S&P decision pending a meeting with MIR founder and chief executive, Michael Triguboff, within the next few days. MIR also announced the hiring of Andrew Beirne, former ING small cap manager, and Marian Carr, former chief investment officer at Harwood Superannuation Fund, as a senior executive officer. MIR has been spectacularly successful since it launched in 2003, in terms of both performance and new institutional mandates, which prompted the Funds Manager of the Year award for large and mid-cap funds and Rising Star award for small-cap funds. S&P put both MIR’s broad-market fund and small-cap fund on hold, but has not altered the status of its long/short fund. The broad-market fund, which is reasonably concentrated compared with those of traditional core managers, is rated ‘five stars’ by S&P. The long/short fund is rated ‘four stars’. Ironically, the former Assirt ratings agency, which was sold by St George Bank to Standard & Poor’s last year, provided the research for the Money Management awards prior to the involvement by IMCA (the Investment Management Consultants’ Association, Australian chapter), which was made necessary because S&P had developed its own awards in conjunction with a rival publication, Investor Weekly. MIR is available to the retail market exclusively through Advance Asset Management since September last year. The one-year return for the main fund is 36.2 per cent (5.8 percentage points ahead of the benchmark) and since inception 36.1 per cent (9.0 percentage points above benchmark). The recent performance is particularly noteworthy given the impact of the resources bull run, which tend to be underweight in the MIR’s portfolios due to their value orientation. Meanwhile, Evans is understood to be returning to UBS Securities where he was previously an analyst. “We’re not that concerned at this stage. We just thought it would be prudent,” Ken Ostergaard, S&P’s fund analyst said yesterday. “We’ve always liked their quant driven approach. They’re very well resourced. We’ve always played down their key manager risk.” Beirne left ING five weeks ago and is due to start with MIR on June 1. ING is currently searching for a replacement and in the interim Issam Eid and Steven Ng will continue to manage the small-cap portfolio.

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